Graham Price stands as some of the true greats of Welsh rugby. Here is a person who began 12 successive Tests for the Lions on 3 separate excursions, in addition to successful two Grand Slams and 4 Triple Crowns with Wales.
Yet, if destiny had taken a hand, he will have ended up taking part in for the Springboks! All will probably be defined on that entrance as we cross alongside. As it grew to become out, he used to be to win 41 Welsh caps at tighthead prop between 1975 and 1983, the majority of them as a part of the mythical Pontypool entrance row, along Charlie Faulkner and Bobby Windsor.
He stored on taking part in for his cherished Pontypool into his overdue thirties and has remained carefully concerned within the sport as columnist for Wales On Sunday, a job he has crammed for some 35 years now. So there may well be few extra becoming applicants to obtain a Lifetime Achievement award from the Welsh Rugby Writers Association. Price used to be introduced with that trophy this week via his previous friend Eddie Butler, following within the footsteps of earlier recipients like John Dawes, Clive Rowlands and John Taylor.
Now 70, he has some story to inform after we catch up for a talk, beginning with how used to be it that he used to be born in Moscar, Egypt?
“My father, Eric, was in the services,” he explains. “He had joined the army at the outbreak of WWII in 1939 and then stayed in after the war. He was posted in Egypt and my mother and sister were out there with him. So that’s where I was born.
“During the war, he actually served in East Africa and he didn’t really want to come back to the UK. He wanted to stay over there and settle somewhere like Cape Town. So it could have been Graham Price ending up playing for the Springboks!”
Outlining his circle of relatives roots, he persisted: “Both of my parents were Welsh. My father came from the farming community in mid Wales. Then he moved away and went to work down the mines in Treorchy. He met my mother there. Her family was from Cwmparc.
“They moved to London where my sister was born. Then, at the start of the war, my father joined up and eventually ended up in Egypt, which is where I came along.
“I was only there a matter of weeks because we were evacuated when the Suez crisis blew up. We were in Bicester for a while and then my father came out of the army and joined the Military of Defence Police.
“His first posting was in Wiltshire, but my mother wanted to come back to be closer to her family in the Rhondda, so he went to work at the Royal Ordnance factory in Glascoed, between Usk and Pontypool. I was five at the time.”
Piece went to number one faculty in Usk after which attended Jones’ West Monmouth Grammar School in Pontypool, taking on rugby on the age of 12. His ability used to be quickly obvious and he used to be decided on to play for the Welsh Secondary Schools, whilst additionally representing his nation in shot and speak about. Then, in 1970, whilst nonetheless a schoolboy, he made his debut for Pontypool.
“When I first joined the club, they weren’t doing so well. They were right down the bottom of the Western Mail merit table. But then Ray Prosser took over as coach and, gradually, over the next few years, we progressed from being the bottom club to winning the Welsh Championship.”
A key part of that transformation used to be the ambitious basis equipped via the entrance row of Price, Windsor and Faulkner, who had been to move directly to revel in such luck in combination for Wales as smartly.
“The reason we were so effective together was because of Ray Prosser. More than anything, he was a motivator, he made us play to the best of our ability. He wasn’t one of those table thumpers, he was a very straight talker.
“It wasn’t just at Pooler, we knew he would be keeping an eye on us when we played for Wales. I can remember him saying to me many times ‘You came back half a pace in that first scrum. Don’t you go bringing those bad Welsh team habits back to Pontypool!’ He was so good at keeping our feet on the ground.
“Bobby had come from Cross Keys, while nobody knew anything about Charlie when he came along. He was actually 32 when he joined the club and then 34 when he got into the Welsh team. It was amazing. It couldn’t happen nowadays, but he was just so motivated.
“We were a well balanced front row. We were all of a similar height and we could go down low in scrum. The thing we would do is get to the mark and form up as quickly as possible, forcing our opponents to get down when they weren’t ready, which meant we had an advantage and would get them on the back foot.”
While they had been so appropriate as a rugby unit, the trio had been moderately other off the sector, with Price a quieter particular person than his larger-than-life entrance row colleagues.
“Bobby and Charlie used to rib me about having long past to Grammar School and University. I am getting my very own again when I’m doing my after-dinner talking. I inform the gag that we had a blended IQ of 138 and I equipped 126 of it! We had been moderately other as folks, however at the box it in reality labored. We went directly to have 5 in reality a success years taking part in for Wales, successful Triple Crowns and Grand Slams galore.”
Their first global fit in combination used to be towards France in Paris in 1975 when Price and Faulkner made their Test debuts. It used to be an unforgettable day as a Welsh staff that includes six new caps gained 25-10, with Price striking the icing at the cake via claiming an exhilarating injury-time check out following an extended vary kick and chase. As Nigel Starmer-Smith famously stated on observation, “They will never believe it in Pontypool”.
It in reality used to be a rating solid upon the health ranges demanded via Prosser, with Faulkner and Windsor the primary two forwards up in fortify to congratulate their entrance row colleague after he touched down. Price used to be right away established within the facet and his shape over the following couple of years noticed him decided on for the 1977 Lions excursion of New Zealand. It used to be a choice up that intended such a lot to him.
“I used to wake up in the early hours of the morning and tune my transistor radio in to listen to commentary of the Lions playing in New Zealand on the 1971 tour, playing on famous grounds such as Lancaster Park, Carisbrook and Eden Park. Then in South Africa, there was Ellis Park and Newlands.
“Playing for the Lions was something I couldn’t aspire to, that’s something other people did. So the fact I ended up getting on there was really overwhelming.
“The 1977 tour was a tremendous experience for me. It was the finest three and a half months of my rugby life. I was determined to play in the Tests but I knew that would mean displacing Fran Cotton who had played so well on the 1974 tour of South Africa.
“I did that, with Fran moving to the loosehead, and then at the end of the tour they picked the whole Pontypool front row to start against Fiji. It’s the only time a front row from one club has played a Test for the Lions and we are all very proud of that. I don’t suppose that will happen again.
“Looking back, we were unfortunate in the way we lost the series to the All Blacks. We had so many opportunities that were left untaken. If we had taken them, who knows what would have happened.”
Having began all 4 Tests in ‘77, Price was to maintain that ever-present record on two more Lions tours – to South Africa in 1980 and then back to New Zealand in 1983 – making a remarkable 12 successive starts.
“When you look at the players who had the previous records, you had Willie John McBride, who played 17 Tests, Gareth Edwards played 10, It’s bloody wonderful in reality whilst you assume I’ve my identify along them. It turns out moderately humbling in reality.”
Away from rugby, Price studied construction development at Nash College, in Newport, after which civil engineering on the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, occurring his first Lions excursion whilst nonetheless a pupil.
Work-wise, he used to be hired via the Pilkington Group as a construction upkeep engineer of their fibreglass manufacturing facility after which changed into deputy supervisor for Cwmbran Shopping Centre, prior to taking a profession alternate as he set himself up as an impartial monetary consultant.
And, in fact, since 1986 he has been a columnist for Wales On Sunday, together with his paintings within the media recognised, together with his magnificent taking part in document, via the Lifetime Achievement award he picked up on the Welsh Rugby Writers Association’s fiftieth anniversary dinner on the Arms Park.
“It was a real honour to receive the award. It has been a great journey since that first game for Wales in Paris, scoring the try which keeps getting re-shown. Then I have enjoyed doing the column for Wales on Sunday, it has been nice to keep in touch with the game.”
A father of 3, with six grandchildren, Price spent a lot of his time in Pontypool, however moved to Croesyceiliog, close to Cwmbran, a couple of years in the past. Speaking from his house, he tells me simply what rugby has given him.
“I think it helped me become a bit more confident. I was very quiet and shy back in those days. Prosser used to take the p*** and say ‘Pricey, shut up will you, I can’t get a word in edgeways!’
“So rugby gave me a confidence that I didn’t have before. But the big thing I got out of it which I really enjoyed was travel. It gave me the opportunity to go to places in the world I would have never have been able to visit in normal circumstances – South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. So I have got a huge amount to thank rugby for.”
Don’t pass over Graham Price’s perspectives at the Wales excursion to South Africa this summer time. He writes a normal Wales Online column in affiliation with